A campaign to protect Ireland’s soils has been launched – People4Soil

Published by Marie Daffe on

December 8th, 2016

people4soil_logoThe campaign was launched on Monday with a seminar about soil at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. The event was held on World Soil Day December 5th.

The aim of the day was to discuss and explore the value of soil and to raise awareness about its preservation. The Environmental Pillar also took this chance to encourage people to sign a petition calling for protection measures of soil in Ireland and across Europe.

The petition is calling on the European Commission to protect soils at European level.

[x_button shape=”square” size=”regular” float=”none” href=”http://environmentalpillar.ie/people4soil/” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Click here to sign the petition[/x_button] 

Through the day, various speakers shared their personal attachment but also their concerns about soil.

Klaus Laitenberger, who is personally and professionally involved in organic agriculture for over 20 years, spoke about the importance of treating the soil properly. He gave as an example to reinforce his point the unbelievable amount of —24 billion tons of fertile soil lost every year. He also insisted on the crucial role of compost and how it is a much more better way to feed the soil than fertilizers.

Director of the Botanic Gardens Matthew Jebb told of Charles Darwin’s obsession with the earthworm and their value to ecosystems and the soil.

A kind of meditation session was then offered by Sr Helen Kelly. She has fought a life-threatening disease and spoke of how her connection to nature helped her to overcome the situation. She encouraged every person in the room to reconnect with the earth as well as being passionate about something in our life.

A more scientific approach to the the fundamental role of soil was brought by Cian O’Mahony. He is a geologist at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He explained in detail how soil is the basis of everything: clean food, clean water, growth of plant and animal life, regulation of the atmosphere, water quantity & quality, air quality, carbon sequestration, etc. Cian O’Mahony also provided a specific focus on Ireland’s situation.

After lunch time, the audience was invited to talk a walk in the very own organic garden of the National Botanic Gardens. Joan Rogers is responsible for this area. She explained how it is quite possible to grow vegetables during winter time. Like Klaus Laitenberger, she also insisted on the role of the compost.

The two next speakers were also closely in relation to vegetable garden.

Rob Krawczyk is head chef of Brabazon Restaurant at Tankardstown House. He spoke about the importance of eating in season and share his own experience. He’s conscious of how lucky he is to have his own garden next to his restaurant but still encourage people to eat local produces when possible.

Nicky Kyle was one of Ireland’s first certified organic commercial growers in the early 1980s. She gave the key to have good vegetables: having a good soil. It’s possible to create it when it’s not available. Damaged soils can also be restored. Never leaving the soil bare, practicing crop rotations to not exhaust the soil and play on mutual beneficial associations between different species are some of the principles that she implements on a daily basis.

Michael H.B. Hayes, professor at University of Limerick, has highlighted the concept of humin in soil. Humin is composed of biological molecules in intimate association with clays. It has a special chemical composition and properly manipulated, it can significantly increase soil carbon sequestration.

The final speaker was ecologist Anja Murray who told of her recent work on natural flood protection and explained how Ireland could deal with flooding better by improving its soils and their ability to retain water.

The seminar ended with a discussion panel and a question and answer session between participants and speakers.

Featured image: Participants were offered a visit of the organic gardens of the National Botanical Gardens as part of the seminar. Credit: Marie Daffe

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Marie Daffe

Marie is a contributor to Green News. She has a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium.